Overbay believes door is open for 2011 return
Wallace trade changes Blue Jays first baseman's thinking
BOSTON -- Lyle Overbay entered this year with the mentality that it would likely be his last as the first baseman for the Blue Jays. With fewer than six weeks left in the regular season, Overbay suddenly has a different outlook.
On July 29, Toronto traded first baseman Brett Wallace -- considered to be Overbay's replacement for 2011 -- to Houston in order to acquire outfield prospect Anthony Gose. In the wake of that deal, Overbay believes there is at least a chance that he might be with the Blue Jays beyond this season.
"If you have a young guy like that," Overbay said, "they're going to replace me with him. When you get rid of him, obviously they can replace me with anybody, but I'm just as good as the 'anybody,' I guess. That's where it changes.
"You always say that stranger things have happened."
Overbay, 33, is in his fifth season with the Blue Jays -- earning $7 million this year -- and is eligible for free agency this winter. Toronto has tried designated hitter Adam Lind at first base a handful of times this year, but the club is not sure who will man the position next season.
If the Blue Jays do not give Lind a shot at the regular job at first base next year, the team might try to fill the position through trade or free agency. Or, Toronto might consider retaining Overbay until a long-term solution is found. For now, though, Overbay is not concerned about next year.
"We've got a lot of time," Overbay said. "The time will come when we discuss and we can talk about it. I'm not too worried one bit. We've got plenty of time to talk about it -- if they want to talk. I'm really comfortable here."
Whether Overbay tests free agency or not, the first baseman can at least move forward knowing he pulled himself out of his terrible early-season slump.
Entering Saturday's game against the Red Sox, Overbay was hitting .295 with 11 home runs, 17 doubles, 35 RBIs and a .376 on-base percentage, dating back to May 29. In his first 49 games this season, the first baseman hit at a .197 clip with four homers, 10 doubles, 19 RBIs and a .276 on-base percentage.
"It's bad to go through, but it's nice to go through in the same token," Overbay said of the slump. "You kind of think you've seen everything and done everything, and then all of a sudden that happens. It's something that I've learned from and hopefully I'll be able to take that learning experience and progress."
Wells trying to work his way out of slump
BOSTON -- Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells opened the season on a two-month offensive tear, earning a spot on the American League All-Star team for the first time in four years. A lot has changed since then.
Dating back to June 9, Wells has hit .228 with a .289 on-base percentage and a .393 slugging percentage over 60 games. Over that time period, Wells has seven homers and 20 RBIs. It is a dramatic dropoff from his first 58 games this season, during which he hit .302 with a .351 OBP and a .604 slugging percentage to go along with 15 homers and 40 RBIs.
"I'm just not getting hits," Wells said. "Not much has changed. I think I've swung the bat better than my numbers will say, but everything is based on numbers. I've just got to keep going with what I'm doing, keep working and get some hits going.
"I'm just missing pitches. I've hit some balls well, but I just haven't been as consistent as I was early on in the year."
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Wells might benefit from bringing his hands back farther prior to swinging, creating a load that could generate more power. Gaston believes that is more of an issue that the center fielder's timing at the plate.
"It's not so much him not getting ready on time," Gaston said. "I think he needs a little longer draw in his hands. Right now, he's quick [to the ball]. He doesn't need much, but I think a little more of a load would help."
Encarnacion out again with sore wrist
BOSTON -- Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was held out of the lineup on Saturday. It marked the second day in a row that Encarnacion was sidelined due to soreness in his left wrist.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Encarnacion might be cleared to return to the mix for the finale of the current three-game set with the Red Sox on Sunday. Encarnacion was scheduled to be re-evaluated after taking part in pregame drills Saturday.
"He's feeling pretty good today," Gaston said. "He's going to take batting practice and we're going to go from there. He might be OK to play [on Sunday]. It depends on what happens."
Gaston added that Encarnacion, who underwent surgery on the same wrist over the offseason, was not available for Saturday's game. For the second straight contest, veteran infielder John McDonald started at third base and occupied the eighth spot of the lineup for the Blue Jays.
Encarnacion has hit .243 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs in 74 games for Toronto this season.
On Saturday, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston used the same lineup that churned out 16 runs on 20 hits on Friday against the Red Sox. That meant that designated hitter Adam Lind was on the bench for the second game in a row. Gaston said his reasoning stemmed from Friday's offensive outpouring, as well as Lind's career numbers (3-for-23) against Boston right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who started on Saturday. "Lind doesn't hit too well off this guy," Gaston said. "Nobody actually eats him alive, but we'll just stay with the same lineup and see what happens." ... Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista has hit .283 with 18 home runs and 43 RBIs in 49 games since being moved into the third spot of the lineup on June 24. Over that same span, Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells has hit .241 with six home runs and 18 RBIs out of the fourth spot of the order. ... In Friday's 16-2 rout over the Red Sox, Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay went 4-for-5 with two home runs and seven RBIs. The only other player to achieve four hits, two home runs and seven RBIs in a game for the Blue Jays was Roy Howell, who went 5-for-6 with a pair of homers and nine RBIs against the Yankees on Sept. 10, 1977. ... With a win over Boston on Friday, Toronto lefty Brett Cecil improved to 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA against American League East opponents this season. ... On Friday, Double-A New Hampshire right-hander Randy Boone retired the last 25 New Britain hitters he faced in order en route to a win. Boone logged nine innings and allowed one run on two hits with six strikeouts.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.